Art show, auction to shine light on foster care services

By: Andy Kozlowski | Southfield Sun | Published October 5, 2022

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SOUTHFIELD — Local artists will perform dance, poetry, songs, music and more at an upcoming event that will highlight awareness for those receiving foster care services, as well as those aging out of the system, with the goal of driving more resources their way.

Fostering the Arts 2, organized by the South Oakland County Kiwanis, or SOCK, will take place 3-5 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 8, at Generation2Generation Ministries, 21800 Melrose Ave., Building 3, in Southfield. Along with the show, there will also be a silent auction and opportunities to make donations.

“The reason (this event) is special and unique is because it focuses on the talent of people in our community,” said Lisa Banks, SOCK secretary, in an email. “The proceeds from the event are used to support foster children of all ages, with an emphasis on those aging out of foster care.”

She noted the event will feature an essay contest where foster children will share their stories. Three winners will be chosen to receive prizes, funded by donations.

Donations also benefit other foster care services, including birthday and holiday celebrations, as well as back-to-school backpacks and duffel bags filled with supplies.

Sheryl Stevenson, the president of SOCK, said that more than 17% of the homeless population in southeast Michigan are people who aged out of foster care.

“We want to bring awareness of this issue in hope that people will take a serious look at being a supportive foster parent and support local agencies,” Stevenson said via email. “Many in foster care live with the stigma of not being worthy and unloved. We want them to know that there is a village who loves them, and cares about them and their future.”

She said SOCK wants to see the system put more emphasis on older children in foster care, and open more affordable traditional housing options to them.

“People can visit these foster agencies and learn about becoming a foster parent, and speak to these children and young adults, and get to know them,” Stevenson said.

She said it was not the children’s choice to grow up without families.

“These children and young adults are our future, and are filled with great potential,” she said.

The entertainers at the event are all local artists donating their time. None of them grew up in the foster care system themselves, but they all support the cause.

The lineup includes the Gotta Praise Him band, Booth Dance Academy (dancers ages 4-9), Worship Flags featuring Micaela Little, the poet Cherise Matthews, and more, as well as keynote speakers from the Judson Center, Friends of Foster Kids, and Embracing Imperfections, a suicide prevention group.

“Fostering the Arts,” now in its second year, came about as Stevenson was trying to figure out an entertaining way to bring awareness to the cause.

“The first (Fostering the Arts) was a great success and well-received,” she said.

SOCK itself formed in 2019. The group works to improve the lives of all children, with special attention paid to those receiving foster care services. So far, SOCK has partnered with four agencies.

People are invited to volunteer with the group by emailing, or by calling (248) 987-8478. The group meets at 6 p.m. on the first and third Tuesdays of every month in Room B of the Oak Park Recreation Department, 14300 Oak Park Blvd. in Oak Park. All are invited.

SOCK is a licensed 501(c)(4) nonprofit. Donations can be made via check and mailed to 14790 Talbot St., Oak Park, MI 48237. Money can also be sent to SOCK at PayPal using its Gmail address. Donations are held by the club treasurer, Dan Maiorano.

For members like Banks, volunteering with Kiwanis is about helping the most vulnerable.

“Serving the community through Kiwanis is very meaningful to me, because the focus of Kiwanis is children,” Banks said. “I feel children and seniors are forgotten in our society, so I wanted to help the community by serving them. Children are truly our future, and if we don’t help children that are in need, then why are we here?”